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Havsteens take supper around it, and imagine themselves in the gardens of old Denmark. There is a second tree, not so large, outside another house, and these two are considered to be quite the most remarkable sights of the town. Their roots are covered with straw during the winter, and the young shoots are wrapped in wool. In my sketch of Akureyri, the Havsteens' house appears: the view is taken from a potato field on the hill above the town. The ridge on the right is Vathla heithi; the gap between it and the distant glacier heap is the opening of the vale through which the Fnjoska enters the fjord; and the snowy mountain beyond is the Kaldbak jokull, twenty-six miles distant, which stands up like a sentinel to guard the entrance of the fjord.

I spent Sunday morning basking in the sun under the wall of the unfinished church, and afterwards visited Svein Skulason, late editor of Northri. He showed me several volumes of Sagas in manuscript. One of these, a thick folio bound in vellum and beautifully written, contained the Sturlunga Saga; he produced also three octavo volumes of "Kvcethi," a more perfect collection than that published by the Nordiske Literatur-Samfund.

Icelandic poetry has gone through four stages; the first or Edda period, when the wording was plain and vigorous, and the metre simple. The second is the age of versesmiths, who hammered out stanzas full of epithet, simile, and periphrasis, so obscure that none but the initiated could extricate the meaning.

The third period is that of the Kvoethi, or ballads. These are mostly reproductions of well-known and widely-spread popular songs. That, for instance, of Olaf liljuros is the same as our "Clerk Colvill and the Mermaid," and the German "Peter von Stauffenberg und die Merfeie." It exists also in Faroese, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Wendish, Bohemian, and Breton.

The fourth period is that of the Kimur. These are simply the Sagas set to jingling rhyme. This fashion came into vogue during the last century, and is popular now. The Eimur are chanted to a tune varied according to the taste of the singer, but always strongly resembling a Gregorian melody.

The following ballad belongs to the third period: I give it as a specimen of the style which, to my taste, is peculiarly musical, and suited to the character of the language. I have preserved the characteristics of the original as nearly as possible.

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"Rede my dream right, mother mine!

In the summer time.
I will give thee golden shrine I

Lily maiden,
Sweetly swans are singing!

n.

First, methought the moon did smile,

In the summer time,
Softly over Skaney isle;

Lily maiden,
Sweetly swans are singing!

m.

Then methought a rowan-tree,

In the summer time,
Louted lowly unto me;

Lily maiden,
Sweetly swans are singing!

Then a swan as silver white,
In the summer time,

Lay upon my bosom light;
Lily maiden,

Sweetly songs are singing!

T.

And I planets twain did sec,
In the summer time,

Lie a-rocking on my knee;
Lily maiden,

Sweetly swans are singing!

vI.

Next I saw the tide rise fleet,
In the summer time,

Sweeping o'er my little feet;
Lily maiden,

Sweetly swans are singing!"

VII.

"As thou saw'st the moon arise, In the summer time,

Royal husband be thy prize,
Lily maiden!

Sweetly swans are singing!

vm.

As the rowan bent, I trow,

In the summer time,
Many folk to thee shall bow,

Lily maiden!
Sweetly swans are singing!

IX.

As thou claspedst cygnet fair,

In the summer time,
Thou a princely son shalt bear,

Lily maiden!
Sweetly swans are singing!

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184

CHAPTER XI.

UXAHVER.

A Second Guide—Icelandic Horse-calls—A theological Candidate—Yathlaskarth—Wood in the Fnjoska dale HAls—Ljasavatn—The Raven —Myth regarding it—Extent to which the Myth has spread—G6thafoss— Flowers—Cross the Flood of quivering Waves—Acquaintances—Lava Cracks—Grenjatharstathr—Uxahver—Boiling Springs—The Wild Huntsman—Origin of the Myth—Myvatn.

I Had now two guides, for Grimr was helpless, never having been beyond Akureyri. Jon, my new acquisition, was an honest, cheerful fisherman; very reasonable in his terms, as he came with a horse of his own for one dollar per diem. The fellow afforded me much amusement; his legs and arms were in continual vibration, like the wings of a bird, and his body lurched from side to side as he inflicted stripes with his long whip, first on the horse to his right, then on that to his left; yet Jon knew how to keep his seat as well as any man. His calls to the horses were quite original, and differed widely from those in ordinary use. Instead of "Afram, yho!" or "Ahr-r-r!" to urge the horses forward, the former signifying, "Go ahead!" and the latter, " The dogs are after you!" Jon compressed his lips and trumpeted forth, "Prrmp, prrmp!"

"Jon!" said I; "a man should never deviate from the customs of his forefathers, nor oppose traditionary uses, without mature consideration, and careful balancing of the matter. For old uses and customs have generally been founded on rational grounds, and, like proverbs, contain a kernel of sound truth."

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